22/05/2007 - 22:00

Jobseekers hold all the aces

22/05/2007 - 22:00


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Finding the right person for the job is becoming increasingly difficult in Western Australia’s current employment market.

Jobseekers hold all the aces

Finding the right person for the job is becoming increasingly difficult in Western Australia’s current employment market.

For the recruitment industry, it’s a far cry from the days when the most challenging aspect of sourcing candidates was sorting through hundreds of applications for a single role.

Now, recruitment consultants are being forced to adapt to a new candidate-driven market, as the state’s mining boom continues to drive demand for labour.

Australian Human Resource Institute WA regional president Janet Cooper said the structure of recruitment had changed since the mining boom.

“Recruitment is really topsy-turvy at the moment. Ethics tend to go out the window when that happens,” she said.

Ms Cooper said recruiters had previously waited for a brief from a client, before going to market to find a candidate.

“Now, recruitment firms are targeting candidates and selling them back to a number of different clients, doing reverse marketing,” she said.

At the same time, candidates are taking control of their own recruitment, approaching a number of agencies to leverage their position.

Lois Wood, founder and owner of Wood Recruitment, agrees that the biggest change she had seen in her 25 years of recruitment experience in Perth has been the transition from a client-driven market to an applicant-driven market.

“Years ago, you might have been faced with receiving hundreds of applications for a role,” she said.

“Now the biggest issue for us is, once we identify a candidate, we need our clients to move very quickly.”

In order to improve their chances in the market, recruitment consultancies are increasingly using more aggressive strategies, such as targeting referees on candidates’ CVs, headhunting candidates and flooding the market with CVs.

However, Kelly Engineering Services WA branch manager Nikki Chapman said forceful tactics were not always appropriate.

“Being aggressive in WA does not necessarily work; instead of getting candidates onside, you can put them offside,” she said.

“Candidates can be quite distressed when they find their CV has been distributed to half the corporate workforce in WA before they know what’s going on.”

Ms Chapman said consultants now had to think more creatively, particularly in relation to candidate management.

“The media has been done and the internet has been done, so you need to be proactive in your approach,” she said.

“You need to keep the initiative going, so (candidates) come back to you when they’re ready to find work.”

Ms Chapman said networking was increasingly important, such as regularly taking candidates out for coffee or lunch, sending birthday cards and attending functions for contractors to maintain relationships.

“You’ve got to maintain a high touch, then they’ll follow you from job to job,” she told WA Business News.

“A good consultant will understand their business relies on both sides – a client may become a candidate, and a candidate may become a client.”

Ms Chapman said approaching referees as potential candidates was an effective use of resources.

“If you’re doing a reference check, why not ask (a referee) whether they’re in the market themselves? You’re utilising that time on the phone,” she said.

Recruitment agencies are also increasingly keeping track of candidates in existing roles, and the expiration dates on their employment contracts, so they can gain an edge when it is time for renewal.

Integrated Group Ltd WA mining division branch manager, Tim Hearle, said that while recruiters had always used competitive strategies, the current market had produced some new trends, including some consultancies sending out candidates’ CVs with-out doing background checks.

However, Gerard Daniels mining division managing consultant, Paul Howard, said such strategies did not necessarily produce results.

Mr Howard said his organisation had invested more in its brand development, and in candidate research, as a response to the boom.

“As the skills shortage bites, more companies need to look at broadening their candidate pool to the international market,” he told WA Business News.

“What we’ve done is boost our research capacity – we’ve put considerable resources towards dedicated researchers, whose primary focus is candidate sourcing and sourcing strategies.”


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